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Capps set for live session, eager to compete for role


GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Matt Capps is not accustomed to arriving at Spring Training without knowing his role in the bullpen. Capps, who is in camp with Cleveland as a non-roster invitee, is competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster.

It is new territory for Capps, but he is eager to tackle the challenge.

"For the last eight years, I've been on a roster and I kind of knew where I was going to be," Capps said. "But, I get it. After being hurt last year, I need to prove I'm healthy. I know when I am healthy, I'll take my chances with anybody.

"It's just a matter of being healthy through Spring Training and, here in about two weeks, start working on competing. If I'm healthy in two weeks, and I can go out and physically compete, everything is going to work out pretty well."

Capps, 29, was limited to 30 games last season with the Twins due to shoulder issues. Across 29 1/3 innings, the veteran right-hander notched 14 saves, posted a 3.68 ERA and had 18 strikeouts against four walks.

Over eight Major League seasons, Capps has collected 138 saves in stints with the Pirates, Nationals and Twins. His best showing came in 2010, when he fashioned a 2.47 ERA and chalked up 42 saves in 74 games with Washington and Minnesota.

If Capps can regain that form, Cleveland will have made quite the find.

"That would be the hope," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "When [general manager Chris Antonetti] signed him, I was like, 'Great.'"

By March 26, the Indians will need to make a decision: release Capps or pay him a $100,000 bonus if he accepts a Minor League assignment.

Capps said he worked hard over the winter to rehab his shoulder and has been "relatively pain-free" since resuming throwing in December. The right-hander has worked off a mound three times in bullpen sessions this spring and is slated to throw to hitters in a live batting practice session on Wednesday.

"We've made little goals and little steps along the way," Capps said. "I think the next step is getting a hitter in the box and kind of getting those juices flowing and the competitive fire going, and we'll see how we recover from that."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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